Ben & Jerry’s searches for young, “cool” franchisees

US-based ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s is looking to expand its Australian network by opening a series of franchisee-owned stores, describing its ideal franchisee as someone “cool” aged 18-35.


Ben & Jerry’s, which already has six local outlets scattered across Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, is about to open its first franchisee-owned store in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood.


According to Ben & Jerry’s brand manager Johnny Hammond, the Chatswood store is “an important first step” of the company’s franchise strategy for Australia.


“We’re looking forward to increasing our footprint in this area as we enter our third year Down Under,” Hammond says.


Ben & Jerry’s is on the hunt for franchisees to operate in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Canberra, although it’s unknown how many franchisees the company will recruit.


“Our rollout plan only allows for stores in key high-traffic locations with day and night trade,” Hammond says.


Nick Prohasky, general manager of the Ben & Jerry’s Australian operation, says the network’s survival isn’t reliant on its expansion, so store openings won’t be rushed into.


“It’s all about bringing the brand experience to the customers,” he insists.


“The essence is a 360-degree brand experience, and we’re looking for brand beacon locations. It will be a controlled and measured rollout… We know how to do it.”


Ben & Jerry’s joins a long list of ice cream franchises operating in Australia, including Baskin Robbins, Cold Rock Ice Creamery, Tasti D-Lite and Trampoline, just to name a few.


However, Hammond is confident Ben & Jerry’s will be able to compete based on the laidback lifestyle of Australian consumers. The brand is also well known for the nature of its product.


“We’re the third largest ice cream market in the world. We love our ice cream and we love choice. We feel there’s enough room in the market,” he says.


“What brings people in is [Ben & Jerry’s] chunks and swirls. We use quality ingredients and no emulsifiers. And the product is made in a sustainable way.”


Hammond describes the ideal Ben & Jerry’s franchisees as “18-35-year-old cool hunters or flavour explorers”.


For a full turnkey operation, the investment range is $350,0000-$500,000.


This includes the franchisee fee, fit-out, equipment, legal costs, administration setup costs, training, and the initial store launch marketing campaign.


Annual fees include a 6% royalty fee, a 2% marketing fee and a 2% local area marketing fee. Turnover is expected to be $750,000 to $1.2 million.


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